Each year, finances permitting, Milford invites writers of colour to apply for one of the two available bursary places. In 2017, our first bursary year, our writers were Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Nigeria) and Dolly Garland (UK). In our second year our bursary recipients were Nisi Shawl (USA) and Rochita Loenen Ruiz, a Filipina writer based in the Netherlands. We welcome applications from writers of colour from anywhere in the world. The only stipulation is that the writer has to have sold at least one speculative fiction short story to a recognised market, and they have to write in English. For details and application forms, take a look here. The bursary covers the cost of Milford and full accommodation and meals (though not transport to and from). We would love to hear from anyone out there interested in offering funding. You can see below, how much getting a bursary for Milford means.
Here is Rochita’s take on Milford 2018.
I had given up on writing.
Or at least I thought I had.
I lost my husband in 2015. After that, I lost my sister. In the same year that I lost my sister, I lost my father.
Each of these losses came at a moment when I thought to myself, let me pick up the pen and write again.
After a while, the losses overshadowed my desire to write. I looked at the words and they made no sense.
Well, I said to myself. I suppose this means writing has left me.
And I thought I should do my best to be happy without writing. And for a while, I really thought I was happy without the writing. Except I really wasn’t.
Every once in a while, I would go back to the written work. I would write. Run out of energy. Sink into despair.
‘There’s no point in courting the muse, when she’s not ready to be courted,’ is what I told myself.
So, when the email came from Jacey Bedford telling me that there had been a unanimous vote to offer me a bursary for the Milford writers workshop. I did not know how to answer. Could I go when I felt like the world’s shittiest writer?
How would I manage that? How could I possibly leave my children and go away for a week?
I thought of my sister and the conversation we had before we parted ways that final time.
‘You must write,’ she said. ‘If you stop writing, I’ll never talk to you again.’
The funny thing is how a good friend repeated those same words to me.
‘Go,’ she said. ‘You must go or I won’t speak to you again.’
The thing about receiving a bursary when you are lost in the wasteland is how it becomes a beacon in the darkness. For the first time in a long time, I began to hope.
As the days passed and as Milford took on a more solid form inside my head. The urge to write and to write more and to write something that meant something to me began to grow.
I then decided to let go of all my previous plans for what I should write and simply write as a way of reaching out to my sister.
I wrote a lot of words that ended up getting discarded, but I was writing almost everyday.
Then, on a visit to the mountains, I felt my sister’s presence. I remembered how I used to be terrified of tumbling down the side of the mountain and of how I wouldn’t go down the mountainside to school if she didn’t come back up and hold my hand. Even when she was exasperated, she would climb back up to where I was, reach out her hand and take hold of mine. The memory of that moment is distilled in the novel excerpt I submitted to Milford.
Milford stays with me as a moment of brightness. I learned from the work of my fellow writers, and I learned from the way they looked at the various works offered for criticque.
More than the writing and the reading of the work and more than the getting to know other writers, I have become more convinced that there are more of us who would rather build bridges than walls. There is a grace in creating space where conversations and dialogues are possible without the harsh stridency we see in the world today.
I am very thankful to everyone who made my Milford week possible. I am thankful for the generosity and kindness of those who voted for me as one of the bursary recipients for 2018 and I am thankful for the individuals who made and who continue to make the bursary possible for the coming years.
On my second day in Wales, Liz Williams and Kari Sperring took me for a drive to the beach at Trefor. We walked and we talked, and on the way back we were gifted with the sight of a double rainbow stretching out over the waters. We stopped to take pictures and as we stood there, I felt very blessed. I was with beloved friends and I was writing again.
I wrote more than 10,000 words while I was at Milford and came home with close to a quarter of a novel.
I am writing still.